Be who you are. One of the easiest ways to be successful in PR is to find your niche and what you are good at, and run with it. Really good at creative puns? Awesome, add those into all of your pitches. If you are really good at speaking on the phone, consider calling reporters instead of emailing. Everyone has their “thing.” For Barokas PR, it is being weird and using that to our advantage.
Always have confidence. Fact: PR has a lot of emotional ups and downs. There will be weeks where media won’t be your best friend, and weeks where you will have client complications. In order to get through all the PR lows, it is important to have confidence. You know what you are doing and what you are talking about, now prove it to everyone else. You got this.
Read up on industry news. In order to successfully launch your client into the marketplace, you have to know what is happening first. Here at Barokas PR, we create weekly Marketplace News recaps for our clients, highlighting the important and relevant industry news released that week. It helps keeps us all knowledgeable on what is happening in the industry, and also provides insight into proactive pitching opportunities. Reading is good for you.
Own a task on your account, and make it your bitch. You may not like everything in PR, or everything you are responsible for on your account, but own it and make it your best work. For example, coverage tracking can be a very tedious tasks, but as the King (or Queen) of Coverage Tracking, view it as the opportunity to have the first stab at proactive pitches and score some awesome media opportunities. Everything you are given has a purpose.
Keep your word. If you say you are going to do something, do it. No one likes being micromanaged and no one likes micromanaging. At an agency, it is extremely important to be organized in order to keep up with everything on your plate. Find a method that works for you; whether that be setting calendar reminders or writing millions of sticky notes. Prove that you are able to handle what is given to you and meet all deadlines. Do not go against your word!
All for one, and one for all. Although PR can seem like an individual job at times, it is all about teamwork. Your account will not succeed unless everyone is on the same page, and everyone supports each other. Even if you may be jealous that your co-worker got an awesome opportunity, make sure to congratulate them and use this high note to keep on trucking.
Spend time on yourself. Yes, PR can be a very demanding job, but it is important to take care of yourself as well. If you are having a stressed day, put down your devices and take a walk outside, call your mom, or hey even adult color. Having a work-life balance is key to successful work during the 9 to 5 hours (or 7 to 7 hours).
Proactive. That word says enough. Don’t wait for your client to tell you what to do, but rather proactively present them with your thoughts and creative PR ideas. Also, be proactive with your team internally. If you think of an idea, or see a piece of news, tell your team. Don’t wait for someone else to present the idea. Do it yourself!
Relationships, build them. PR is all about relationships. If you successfully pitch a reporter, don’t just leave it at business, add a personal touch. If you studied abroad in Europe, and the reporter you are working with lives in Europe, bring up your experience and chat about the kinds of things you did while you were there. The reporter will appreciate that you are looking at them as a person, not just a media outlet. Additionally, stay in touch with them. Check-in from time to time to keep the relationship going.
Since it’s almost my 3-month anniversary of working at BPR (it’s a big one, I know), I wanted to share with everyone what I have learned and what I love about working here. With some additional inspiration from my girl Leslie Knope, Tom Haverford and April Ludgate.
There is SO much love
Since the day I walked into BPR, I had the instant feeling of being at home. It’s so much different than anywhere I’ve ever worked, where coworkers were just people you worked with. Here at BPR we are not just colleagues, but family. Even on your most stressful day, you walk into the office and feel the unconditional love from the ones around you. One might even say we are kind of obsessed with each other. No matter what time of day, communication is always constant, usually not even work-related. Whether it be getting adorable pictures of Jason’s kiddos or texting about what we are doing over the weekend. Even on work from home Fridays, you will likely find team members working together from some remote location.
Family is a place where you feel safe and valued and that’s exactly how I feel everyday at work.
You’re on a team and everyone’s your cheerleader
At BPR we want everyone to succeed. It doesn’t matter what account you’re on, or with who, people are always cheering for you. In the world of PR, everything is so fast paced that it’s sometimes hard to remember to embrace your client wins, but at BPR you can guarantee that someone has already praised you to all your team members. When someone is feeling down, frustrated or just having a bad day, the team is always there for a little pick me up. And those little praises and words of encouragement are exactly what you needed.
Equal playing field where everyone’s voices are heard
At BPR, success is a true team success because everyone has a role in making it possible. The individual mindset is non existent and there’s no time for hierarchy. Everyone has equal opportunity to assist on all projects. No matter what your job title is, there is an opportunity to work on things that interest you. I’ve never worked at an agency where everyone from AAE’s to VPs work together to pitch new business. And if you have interest in working on a certain account, management will do what they can to get you on that account. No matter what the account, everyone has a chance to have their ideas heard, place stories in the media and implement all the strategies and tactics we have been working so hard on. Everyone brings something unique to the table that we can all appreciate and learn from.
Work hard, play hard is actually a thing
Work hard, play hard is really a thing. With all the hard work we are doing, we all know it’s necessary to let off some steam every once and awhile. A nice cold beer, a glass of bubbly or even a stiff cocktail is always deserved after a long day of pitching and especially at the end of a stressful launch day. If there is an excuse to be celebrating, you can guarantee we will be. Birthday, New hire, Cinco de Mayo, St. Paddy’s, Wedding?! You name it, we’ll celebrate it.
Aside from there always being a wide variety of spirits in the office in case of emergency, we just got a new ping pong table, and have an array of adult coloring books for when we need to take some personal time in the day. Company off-sites are also a way to get out of the office and spend quality time with our team members with no work involved. A few weeks before I started, The Denver team took a trip to Beaver creek and we are planning a trip to the mountains for some fun adventures this summer.
The more dogs, the merrier
This is pretty much self explanatory. The more dogs in the office, the merrier everyone is. A dog friendly office always boosts everyone’s spirits. The day is always infinitely better when Annabelle and/or Bronco grace us with their presence.
This blog post is being written in the dead of night while I enter Day 3 of being incredibly sick. I haven’t been to the doctor yet but I imagine it’s the worst virus they’ve ever seen and it’s just a matter of days – not weeks – before my family is reaping the benefits of my life insurance policy. If this is indeed my last blog post, I kindly ask someone to erase my Google search history.
When I’m sick, it’s not a secret. Everyone knows about it. “When is the interview, you ask? Couldn’t tell you. I’m dying.” I don’t know the producer who handles the news scroll on CNN, but if I did, I’d probably pitch him that “Sources: Jason is dying. In lieu of flowers, Jason has requested Coldplay at his funeral.”
The problem is when you catch a virus from someone around you, you’ve had a front-row seat to how they dealt with it. There’s a good chance one of two BPR-Denver employees had this same virus the last two weeks and they probably acted about 50x less dramatic than I have been. There’s a stereotype that all men are babies when they’re sick. But I refuse to apologize for how I handle my body fighting disease. Just because this Black Lung hits my body hard, doesn’t mean I should tailor my response to how others react.
The same applies to clients. One could react to a deliverable or media opportunity with the upmost jubilation. It could be the highlight of their company’s PR efforts, getting circulated in a company-wide newsletter.
That same opportunity could be met with a collective yawn by another client. They’re not wrong in their reaction. Just different.
Expectations have never been uniform in PR. Some clients are happy with a few impressions on their latest smart widget. Others could wrap up a media tour of 24 of the top 25 media outlets in New York, but still be upset that you couldn’t book Horse & Hound for a deskside. And while it might cause you to stare at that client with The People’s Eyebrow, they can’t be blamed for how they handle the situation. Maybe expectations weren’t level-set in the early stages of the relationship. Or perhaps they just really wanted Horse & Hound. Whatever the case, they can’t be dinged for not reacting the same as another client.
It’s up to the communications partner to view each partnership differently. Get a feel for the respective client and understand how they approach news – both good and bad. While we sometimes wish we could cut and paste our easier clients across all accounts, life doesn’t offer a CTRL C or CTRL V option.
What I’m trying to say is I’m really sick, my face hurts and it wouldn’t kill my co-workers to launch a KickStarter campaign for Chris Martin to sing Fix You at my wake while crying harder than Vada Sultenfuss at the end of My Girl.
This week at BPR Denver, the team took thirty minutes to play a game of “PowerPoint Roulette.” If I caught you mid-head scratch, allow me to elaborate. PowerPoint Roulette, or Powerpoint Karaoke, is is an improv game where a person presents a slideshow to an audience without knowing the contents of the slides ahead of time.
As part of this exercise to better our presentation skills and the ability to think on our feet, our team member Rachel put together a PowerPoint presentation with 22 images (randomly chosen from Shutterstock). We were all given the same situational topic, which we had to relate our randomly assigned slides back to. The topic? Providing a new intern with some advice about the PR industry.
Without fail, our team impressively tied 22 random photos, including a photo of a hamster, lounging dart frog, and a Rudolph-shaped Christmas ornament back to PR. Here’s how:
“You always have to believe in your clients, like you believed in St. Nick. Be the ‘Rudolph’ who leads the client’s way in PR, guiding them and making sure they are delivering.” –Bri Rios
“You’ll need to learn that strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all for your clients. Sometimes a ‘pear’ strategy might not be the right fit, so try the ‘apple’ on for size but leave no stone unturned. That’s what is really cool about working in PR – you have a lot of options to be creative.” – Rachel Fukaya
“Don’t be a sucker, work at an agency. It might seem sweet to do in-house PR, there are some benefits to working at an agency where you have multiple clients (candy options) to work with every day. Working in-house (or eating the same candy every day) is bound to have you leaving with a stomach ache.” – Jason Michael
The moral of the story? PowerPoint Roulette was a big hit and we weren’t half bad at thinking on our feet. The whole team is looking forward to the next time we are able to play and polishing our presentation skills up! Thanks for the great idea, Rachel!
There is this preconceived notion that media relations is strictly an art conducted over the phone or via email. You send an email, pick up the phone to follow up, and then, if a reporter is interested, you schedule a phone call or email interview. We’re here to tell you there’s one more thing you should consider as part of the PR mix – deskside briefings. They call it media relations for a reason.
As PR professionals, it can be easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest ways to get our clients in front of the media, but it’s important to keep in mind that the foundation for great media success lies in building a relationship, one that sometimes does not have legs to stand on if the interview is just conducted over the phone or via email. Here at BPR, we have a wealth of expertise at our fingertips through our clients who have the ability to engage and wow reporters. In an attempt to bring back the importance of genuine face-to-face interactions with reporters, Barokas PR has found great success in booking in-person media briefings for our clients.
Through firsthand trial and error, we’re here to disclose the do’s and don’ts of successful deskside media briefings.
Do find the right spokesperson to put in front of the reporter
One of the keys to relationship-building success is having a spokesperson that is passionate about the subject. Have your client give you the rundown on the expertise of each spokesperson. Once you find those perfect spokespeople and get them in front of the right outlets, make sure you connect with them to debrief following interviews. Discuss what worked, what did not, and if there’s a better spokesperson for a certain topic moving forward.
Don’t let your client walk into a meeting blind
Ideally your client is already great at thinking quickly on their feet, but preparation is key to ensuring they will be ready for anything the reporter might throw their way. This is especially important for an in-person meeting where facial expressions are worth a thousand words. Before the interview, take the time to inform your spokesperson about the reporter. Go beyond the basics (i.e. the reporter’s beat and what they typically cover) to topics including their opinions on your client’s competitors and their stance on industry hot button issues. Also try to get personal. What does the reporter like to do in their free time? Yes, this is about business, but sometimes your client will be able to make a deeper connection with the reporter because they went to the same college, both love cats, or are also obsessed with Breaking Bad.
Do ID the right people with the right story
Step one to booking an in-person briefing starts with research. So, you find the PERFECT contact at Re/code for your client? Great! Do they live in the designated location your spokesperson is visiting? Didn’t think so. Before reaching out to the reporter, make sure your stalking skills are up-to-par. You can’t always trust Cision, especially as many reporters now freelance and live in smaller markets across the country. LinkedIn or Twitter are great ways to confirm a reporter’s hometown. Find out their favorite coffee shop and offer that as a meeting point. Bonus points for you when they come back with a, “Wow! I love that place!”
Do set reasonable client expectations
Congratulations, you have secured the in-person media briefing! Now is the time to set client expectations. The reality is that a story might not immediately result from the conversation. It’s important that your client understands the importance of this introductory conversation as a relationship building opportunity. While a story may not hit a week, a month, or even a year after the interview, there is a good chance the reporter will reach out to the spokesperson as a resource for future stories because of the connection that was made.
Don’t think everything will go as planned
We live in a busy time, in busy cities, with busy schedules. Cancellations happen, and sometimes even only minutes before the scheduled meeting. As the PR professional, you need to have a plan of attack (not a heart attack) when the reporter cancels last minute. Stay calm, cool and collected with the client and focus on how you can reschedule the interview, either in-person or over the phone, if necessary. Don’t give up and be resourceful! If you have at least a day’s notice, try to fill that empty space with a new interview.
Do keep in touch
The best thing about in-person meetings? They actually remember your client. Yes, the reporters remember that they spilled coffee on their pants and ordered way too much food. The spokesperson has created a connection with the reporter, opening a line of communication that will make it easier to follow up in the future with relevant news.
The bottom line here is that as a public relations professional, you can’t forget about the art of a face-to-face relationship. Once you find your ideal client spokesperson, use them! There is nothing better than seeing the CEO or CMO’s passion for their company shine through in person. Put down the phone, and schedule an in-person briefing. We promise, it will be beneficial!
Most folks in our office agree that pitching our clients to reporters is one of the best parts of the PR gig. The creativeness of a well-crafted pitch, the perfect position of a product or executive, and feeling of secured coverage all deliver an adrenaline rush for us PR junkies. All of these factors can lead to some fantastic results, but without the same focus towards your media list, all this effort can be easily wasted.
Well duh, Grady. If you don’t pitch the right people you won’t get coverage. This is a PR agency blog, not Communications 101.
While media lists seem like a small box to check on the pre-launch prep list, targeting the right people to tell your story can make all the difference. This compilation of contacts isn’t something that you construct once and then use for the next year with your client. It is a fluid document that will serve you best when you take the time to tweak, update, and check in on its status before that hectic pre-launch scramble, so that the question, “How does our media list look?” isn’t even a thought.
Pro AAE tip from yours truly: don’t neglect the “Notes” section on your document. If a reporter doesn’t like to get on the phone, if they typically don’t take briefings, if they don’t like walking through a PPT preso – whatever – all of these little details can make or break the quality of your final story. These details could even mean the difference between a steady stream of coverage or zero pieces on your new product because you called, emailed, or reached out a the wrong thing or at the wrong time.
This blog was inspired by a recent update I made to a media list this past week. Despite the methodical nature of the job, there was something relaxing about taking an hour to scrub the media list, add new faces, and reconfirm contact details for our “friendlies.” Having confidence in the people you are pitching means your carefully crafted message is reaching the right target. Our clients expect this, reporters expect this, and as PR pros, it’s our responsibility to hold up this promise to both.
In the field of public relations, planning a launch is like preparing for a big game. For the purposes of this blog, and considering the season, let’s liken it to the journey to the World Series.
The planning starts well in advance. After all, you don’t just automatically qualify for the big leagues; you have to earn the invitation. This is where early preparation comes into play.
Watching Film & Game Strategy: Prepare your playbook. Together with the client, you outline all of the steps that your team will be living and breathing for the next few weeks. This involves leveraging all your strengths and knowing the market opportunity up for grabs. In this case, market differentiators, successful case studies, relativity to current industry trends, etc. You must also leverage resources to learn your competitors’ moves—what are they likely to lead with, what’s their strongest pitch (aka leading player) and what’s your plan for defense, as well as offense. Like any good playbook, it’s tailored towards your strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses.
Practice: Before the games begin, you have to stretch, flex, and build your muscles. In PR, this means planting seeds with the press for the big day. Outline your client’s message and business model and highlight (aka flex) their positive influence on the market. If this is an enterprise client for example, flex that problem solving muscle that they’re bringing to the table. Build up your talking points, and strengthen them so that there is no alley. Define your teams’ biggest weakness, and find appropriate plays that will deflect and redirect the ball in the direction you want it to go.
Game Time – Up to Bat: Before you step up to the plate with that first reporter briefing, take a few practice swings. Sit down with your client, and role-play the reporter-interviewee relationship. Ensure that your client is comfortable holding the bat, knowing which balls to let go, and when to swing.
Running the Bases: Getting through a launch takes more than just one member of the team. Successful game plays sees all team members utilized. While one’s on first, everyone else is in position, preparing to get home safely. In the case of an individual briefing for example, one team member’s calling the shots and hosting the call (Catcher), one’s taking notes and strategizing the next move (Basemen looking to steal a base), someone may be giving the client real-time feedback (Coaches), all the while, everyone’s eyes are on the ball. The goal of this game is to drive home the leading message; ensure every key point gets hit, follow-through (or up) with additional information, and run home with all the energy you’ve got left. Aka, pitch, pitch, pitch!
Victory Dance: What’s a winning day without a little celebration? Just like a post-game celebrations when the game MVP is announced, it’s important to acknowledge everyone on the team for the important role they played. After all, it’s a team effort. Your client made the front page, and you and your team get to go out for some victory drinks and much-needed slaps on the back.
Your awesome client tells you that they have news – which is music to a PR pro’s ears. Nothing excites me more than having a good story to sell to the media. Press releases, pre-briefings, getting the product ready, it’s all very thrilling until the unexpected happens.
Our client, Rachio, a maker of smart sprinkler controllers, came to Barokas PR, ready to launch their second generation of product. Lovers of Earth and conservation, we were all very excited about the prospect of representing Rachio. The challenge? Pitching a seasonal product in the dead of winter with Winter Storm Jonas unexpectedly wreaking havoc on the East Coast the exact week of launch. All our reporter friendlies in New York and New Jersey who wanted to test the product? Yeah, forgetta ‘bout it. Media suddenly had other things dominating their time.
What’s a team to do?
Luckily, before our team even began thinking about drafting a pitch for launch and before these winter storms starting brewing, it was very critical to set expectations with our partner beforehand. By having an initial conversation, where we outlined achievable goals to our partner, we were able to gather resources and prepare a solid plan for the client.
Make a work-back plan
Building a work-back plan from the expected day of launch, helped get the team and our partner on the same page. By starting with the day of launch and working backward, we planned each week out with precision. 1 month out, begin pitching pre-briefings; 3 weeks out, begin sending images of the product; 2 weeks out, finalize the press release; 1 week out, send release under embargo, and so the plan goes. With a sold strategy in place and working out months before the launch date, we were able to secure immense interest before launch, even in the middle of winter. We knew a winter launch for a smart sprinkler controller would be a challenge, little did we know that Jonas was on the way…
Under promise and over deliver
After hustling hard to book pre-briefings and get reporters to test the product during Winter Storm Jonas, the release crossed the wire. After aggressively following up with our contacts with the finalized release, we couldn’t wait to see which piece would publish first. Would TechCrunch cover the Amazon Echo exclusive? Was CNET going to publish? What if the messaging was wrong? And then, it happened. FLOODS, I mean, FLOODS of coverage started rolling in. CNET, The Verge, Tech Hive, TechCrunch, and then reposting after reposting of those top-tier hits. To this day, after several product and company launches, compiling that launch day coverage report was the most gratifying thing I’ve done in PR. The client was extremely impressed by our aggressive efforts and we were thrilled to have over delivered on expected coverage through it all.
Don’t leave ‘em hanging
Even on launch day as coverage was posting, we were already thinking about how we could sustain this momentum. To keep the ball rolling, we continued brainstorming new story angles and identifying new contacts at our target publications. We’ve been able to create a consistent cadence of coverage in top tier publications through product reviews, broadcast features, and giveaways in gift guides.
There’s no way to anticipate the power of Mother Nature, but having a solid team in place and working closely with our client ensured that launch would be successful, even during an apocalyptic snow storm.
Tuesday, March 22nd was World Water Day. This day was established to raise awareness and provide opportunities for the international community to get involved with water-related issues and broader WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) initiatives. One day out of the entire year is dedicated to what millions of us take for granted, but also what millions more around the world lack: safe water.
One organization that thinks about safe water and improved sanitation practices 365 days out of the year is Splash. We had the chance to get together with Splash at their headquarters on WWD to hear Founder & Director Eric Stowe and Director of Business Development Cyndie Berg discuss their current work, as well as the focus ares for 2016 and beyond.
Having worked with Splash over the past year, we know quite a bit about them. If you don’t, here’s the gist: As a group of highly driven, passionate, and razor-sharp people, Splash seeks to provide clean, safe water and improve daily hygiene habits for hundreds of thousands of kids living in impoverished urban areas. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will reside in cities that already have a strained infrastructure with current populations. Splash is trying to stay ahead of the migration by targeting institutions in these areas that serve the younger generations. They look to serve schools in cities like Kolkata and Katmandu. One of their most ambitious goals: provide clean water for every orphanage in China by 2017. That’s over 150,000 children across 1,300 locations, and they’re already 75% of the way there. They are also present in Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, and other areas with high populations and limited availability to safe water.
I can talk about this organization all day. From their mission to their execution to their mindset, Splash is leading a new generation of non-profit organizations. They ultimately strive to serve 0 kids – “kill your charity” as Eric calls it. It’s what makes us so proud to be a partner with Splash, and so excited for what they have in store in the coming months. Check them out.
Out of all my friends that just graduated college, I’m one of the extremely lucky few who can honestly say they’re looking forward to going to work everyday. Sure, we all have had our share of frustrating days and Sunday ‘scaries,’ but I couldn’t imagine a world without my BPR family. When chatting with my friends, there are so many people in their first job that absolutely despise it, even to the point where they dread the daily grind. It might be the commute into work, unchallenging day-to-day tasks, a shitty manager, or a difficult client, but all these little things build up and can really make a person miserable.
Now, fortunate enough for me the commute to work is about a 10-minute walk (or a 3 minute rollerblade), the work we do is challenging yet rewarding and varies day to day, and my manager truly cares about my career and personal life. Other people might not be as lucky as we are to start a job that will enable them to build a solid professional path to success while building valuable relationships.
Yes, we’re all about the crazy PR-life, but everyone has a passion outside of work, too. Whether it’s playing or listening to music, spending the weekend outdoors hiking or skiing, photography, or maybe you’re passionate about volunteering – we’re not all slaves to the workplace. Working at Barokas for the last 9 months has made me realize how important it is to pursue your passions outside of PR. It’s vital to your personal happiness and career to create your own path to happiness in your job.
What ever it is, Barokas is a workplace that enables you to explore what you find rewarding in life. For me, I graduated college with a dual degree in HR and marketing, and I have always wanted to be able to use my passion for this field in a productive way. By helping out with whatever HR programs we have at Barokas — for example helping to update the employee handbook, mentoring interns and interviewing potential candidates — I’ve been able to create more happiness for myself.
Everyone has a passion, find it and let BPR be the place where you get to explore it 🙂